Category Archives: Kanon

Write It Down

I’ve gotten many advice over the course of my life, but one good one I’d like to share with you today is in the form of a joke. If you’ve heard it, I apologize for dragging it out and butchering it.

An old couple who lives in the City are, well, old. The husband and wife get along for the most part, being married for so long. But as they age they slowly forget more and more. Lately some fights broke out between them only because one would forget something important, like taking the car in for a tune-up or picking up the other at the airport, some such things. After seeing their doctor, they were suppose to heed his advice: start writing important things down! The two of them then got some notepads and began doing it.

So the wife was going to the kitchen one afternoon and the husband asked her to make a sundae for him. “Two scoops of vanilla ice cream, some walnuts, whipped cream, and chocolate sprinkles.” “Okay, I got it.” “Are you sure? Don’t you want to write it down”? “I’ll remember,” she said. A while later the wife returns with a plate of scrambled eggs. The husband fusses up, expectedly, and said, “where’s the toast”?

Writing it down is important. I should’ve done that with the couple ideas floating in my head while farming for faction and PvP honor in WoW. Farming is humbling work–it brings some kind of mental clarity in a chaotic and disorganized setting. But you gotta write it down when the Muse beckons.

Aside from lamenting about lost ideas, though, I think it’s a powerful narrative device. There are a few anime based on lost and found memories, and some based on rediscovered manuscripts. The link between the loli-tastic Al Azif from Demonbane and a much more subtle and celestial work like Reki’s recollection from Haibane Renmei is not as tenuous as you’d think, from this perspective.

But when you write it down, and take a hard look at what is presented to you, things look differently. This is partly what has happened with Kanon. And this can happen both within and in the meta. Imagine if Yuuichi kept a journal or something? LOL. The journey we take through this half-year with Kanon, likewise, brings to life what we may merely remember so long ago.

And here I present the biggest understatement of the year.

A Bit of Summer to Cure Winter Blues

Somehow Asatte no Houkou keeps me going–it comes to my mind first when I write, even if I am watching plenty of other crap right now.

But here in North America it’s getting cold. Winter has always been a moody season for me and personally I find myself psychologically falling into a cycle. Spring is when I fall in love with new things, and Winter when I celebrate (or lament) on the fleeting days of the year gone by and the memories it carried. Not sure what Summer and Autumn are, yet.

Anyways, it really started with Haibane Renmei. I think when I first caught it as it was airing, it was such a lovely watch that I had to watch it as it was airing. In fact, the first 5 episodes were so good partly because of its timing. It really helps me to savor those episodes because it matched that winterly feeling, transiting from lazy Autumn afternoons into biting, Canadian-like mornings.

What’s odd about Asahou is that right now I can’t imagine watching it during Summer, and have it come off feeling the same way. It’s almost like Haibane Renmei in a way, once I got past the uncertainty of the first 3 episodes. To contrast, Someday’s Dreamers was a similar, slice-of-life show that was very fitting for a Summer viewing. Both, as you may remember, took place during summertime. The seasonal contrast is even a part of Someday’s Dreamers, as it was casually alluded to with Masami Oyamada’s magic powers and past circumstance.

There are other anime with a strong seasonal motif, too, but I think with slice-of-life type shows, it is ever front and center as the most powerful, intangible element to a show. Aria, for example, doesn’t distinguish what season it is even if it’s a visible element to the show–or rather, Summer in Venice is not like Summer in Neo Venezia–because it feels the same no matter what season it is. On the other hand, Kanon does winter right–it has to. There’s an element of play as well an element of sorrow, and I think Kanon captures that dynamic well.

Maybe the real trick is to create your own personal reality in a fantastical setting? I think Azumanga Daioh, which is much more personal to the average Japanese person in Japan than Aria, does a better job at doing seasons and feelings because it is something animation creators can relate to on a first-person basis. Which is to say, Haibane Renmei was all the more amazing as it’s spun only from its creator’s brain? Maybe. Asatte no Houkou could very well be the same, even if the setting is familiar.

Rabid Kanon Fans Blow Hot Air or Illogical Harem Hate

To really do Kanon and Air, as two franchises, justice, we really need a solid footing in history. It just makes no sense to head into it without getting your bearings right. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’m qualified to even try.

Well. I did try, but after writing a few paragraphs I realized it’s futile to explain it in detail. It’s beyond me. Instead, let me just be brief and sweet.

Kanon is about the girls, their stories, and the fable feel in that fantasy winter wonderland. Or winter tragicland. It’s enough, more than enough, to gather its own fans just based on the merits of Kyoani’s animated adaptation alone. The power of moe transcends petty franchise labels, after all.

Older Kanon fans, either from the Toei era or from the original uproar of Key‘s success, will enjoy the new anime just like how the fans do. I’m not sure what that means, but just seeing Mariko Kouda back in action (older, mellower, and more moe!) is enough to send me to that winter wonderland. It probably vary between each fan, and you know the drill.

But to compare it to Air? Sure, you can, but there’s so much one could say about the two beyond the superficial. In fact, you really have to get to the root of both adaptations: that they were sister games in a true sense. Kanon was a proof of concept, and Air is more radical and original which came at the wake of Kanon’s success. It shows in the nonlinear storytelling. It shows in the choice of narrative devices. it shows in the simplicity.

These fundamental differences surface in their adaptions. Kanon was by all means a straight-up harem, and Kyoani’s Kanon currently is just that. It’s no surprise people who are, for one reason or another, coming to be allergic to harems generally “don’t get it” why so many of their equally-jaded fellow fans like it.

The moral of the story, I guess, is to read Wikipedia. It’s common to mock Kanon as an eroge, but that’s kind of like laughing at Michael Jackson as a man with black skin–you could, but it betrays a good-faith understanding of the situation. It’s stupid and ignorant. It’s also a little disingenuous to compare Kanon and Air just on the grounds that one is really a harem and the other isn’t really a harem. There are probably a lot of great insights we can gleam from such an exercise, but we got to go deeper to grasp it.

Analysis GET!

List no Houkou

1. The manga is still going on for Asatte no Houkou. Volume 3 is the latest volume, AFAIK.

2. There are more characters, more spoilering fun! SPOILERS!


4. No, thankfully I wasn’t spoiled, but if I were you I’d AVOID IT. Said the person who was, to me.

5. Nayuki is still the best.

6. In as much as copyright is a hot topic on the internet today, the anime slice of the copyright-topical pie is something that I am trying to delineate into discrete topics that are forward-looking. We have a lot of dialogs about now-looking and some paper written from a past-looking perspective, and that’ll be useful to talk about what is to come. I think this is particularly exciting when you look at it from the cross-licensing perspective. Bishoujo gaming, the rise of shoujo manga, gunpla, and professional costuming are just a few examples.

7. I’m still pleasantly surprised that I can bring myself to watch Akiyuki Shinbo’s Negima?! without prejudice. I hated the manga, I hated the anime, but most of all I hated all the fandom. The surprise is pleasant because the remake is actually enjoyable! It’s hard to find shows that are so enjoyable when you’re trying to hand-pick from all the offerings. Going by hype, cover, OP/ED, and what have you only gets you so far. Shows like Tokimeki Memorial is going to get left behind, despite the quality production. Maybe I’m just lazy and even if I can download the raws and have the ability to enjoy raws, I just don’t have the time and drive to watch them half the time.

8. Black Lagoon is still love.

9. I dropped Code Geass like a brick, sort of along the line of Innocence Venus. Neither are bad shows, but I am not in the mood. I think I’ve had enough angst from my weekly dose of Red Garden to last for a while. Yet, I’m watching staple stuff like Death Note (I think I owe it to some people to watch it) and Pumpkin Scissors. I’m probably watching the latter just for Kana Ueda, on that note.

10. Is that why I stopped on Nana too? What does it say about women? Besides that they’re sympathetic yet probably slam-worthy targets for femnazis? I dare not to ponder further.

Kanon: あさだよ~

Kanon isn’t having its first bandwagon with Kanon 2006. This is probably the third time it has happened.

But life with Web 2.0 is different than life without. There’s this Kanon tracker for starters.

Monday Night Football

I know Mariko Kouda has done several rendition of “Asa, asa da yo~” and I could have swore that I have a clean copy somewhere from back in the days when Kanon was hot stuff, but I can’t find it now. While it’s too bad that I can’t just loop that little clip of moe history on my playlist, I want to check if that clip is the same as the one Kyoani used in their remake. Admittedly by episode two I was weirded out because you could tell the room reverb in the show between when they were talking in the open areas inside school versus inside the classroom or hallways. I suppose some kind of “alarm clock recorder” filter got used there too, but I wanted to check.

So, if you got a copy of that somewhere, help a brother out? You can have this slightly cleaned up “WHAT ALL MY BASE ARE BELONG TO NAYUKI?!” in exchange.

[update: yay now you can listen how Mariko Kouda gets slower over time: all three in a zip]